Why is Michael Myers the Scariest Horror Icon?
The thousands of examples of horror movie icons are endlessly debatable. So many people have strong feelings one way or another on which one is scariest. But the ones that really scare people the most are killers who aren’t supernatural. The worst examples of movie monsters are the ones that could be real.
Other people are always capable of doing things we don’t understand or agree with in any way. That’s what makes these kinds of movie villains the most interesting. Sure, Chucky will kill anyone to get out of his doll body. Freddy Kreuger will slash his claws through anybody’s dreams. Don’t forget Jason Vorhees… he’s probably already coming back from the dead again.
So Why is Michael More Terrifying?
But the horror icon that terrifies people above these supernatural monsters is simpler. The real terror comes from something that could absolutely happen in real life. Someone has a bad childhood, their brain isn’t neurotypical, and suddenly other people end up dead. That’s a story that could be in a newspaper as easy as in a movie synopsis. That’s what makes Michael Myers so terrifying. It’s the threat that someone like Michael could be lurking around every dark corner. That’s the thought that keeps us up at night. The thought that keeps us checking the closet before bed. Michael is simultaneously the boogeyman of legend and all too real.
Whether you subscribe to the original films or the Rob Zombie remakes, Michael is one messed up kid. He then grows up to be one of the most disturbed adults in his reality. Not a supernatural beast, but a predator whose compassion doesn’t exist. Michael is often called ‘The Shape’ because he embodies our fear of the unknown. He has the ability to appear as a normal person, reminding us he can hide in plain sight.
Freddy Kreuger or Chucky couldn’t be waiting in a crowd for you, the crowd would lose their minds. But Michael could be driving a car, walking in public, without his mask he could be anyone. Okay, anyone who’s easily over six feet tall in any case.
It Could Be Any One of Us
That’s the real terror of Michael Myers, it’s the terror laden in living near other people. We are scared of powerful beasts and monsters, but only when we forget how bad people are. For every single Leatherface or Chucky, there are hundreds of real monsters. Michael Myers represents the evil in all of us. He is a form given to the darkness within the human race. That is the true nature of fear. When you’re scared of monsters, you hide under your blankets because they aren’t real. If you’re frightened by Michael Myers, there’s nowhere to run, and you can’t hide. He is mindless will pointed in the direction of murder.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for his journey. In some versions, he’s chasing after his long lost sister, while others have him killing people indiscriminately. But no matter what the reasoning, there’s no way to argue with his mission. He can’t be bargained with or reasoned with, Michael will keep going. That’s what makes him terrifying, it doesn’t matter what happens to him.
Michael isn’t held back by fear for himself, he knows he will survive. After all these years of being beaten, shot, stabbed, and electrocuted, he’s hardened. It’s not clear if he even feels pain the same way we do. And yet he’s all the more terrifying because that’s something people have the ability to do.
What Can We Do?
So in a world where possessed dolls and haunted houses are king in horror, keep the classics in mind. Creatures and spirits are terrifying in most cases, but people can be just as scary. Keep an eye out and always look around corners. No matter what reality you are in, Halloween tends to bring out the freaks. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about Jason in real life… that’s something… right?
Is Michael Myers not scary enough for you? Check out our list of horror movies too scary to watch if you’ve got the stomach for it.
My name is Jon Schmitt and I am a writer through and through. Though I’ve spent my whole life obsessed with various sections of Nerd-dom, the thing I like most is writing. If I’m not here on the site, you will probably find me nose-deep in a book, playing games, or reading comics… and always with a cup of tea.